Click to catch up on post one (intro), post two (efficiency), post three (agility), post four (performance), post five (trust) or post six (scale) in this series.

Whilst the breadth of change in terms of scale, agility, trust, efficiency and performance going on in enterprise IT might sound challenging, it is no exaggeration to say that nearly all business processes are increasingly dependent on IT, and so you can easily see how vital it is that these issues don’t become the point-of-failure in a business model.

The notion that the competition is ‘months’ or ‘years’ behind cannot be allowed to breed complacency; rather, as I’ve noted before, leaders need a degree of ‘confident paranoia’ to maintain vigilance and ready themselves to drive progress on their own terms. Businesses that fail to plan and develop their capabilities in these five areas may find themselves unable to keep pace with, or step ahead of, the market.

These shifts will also lead to a change in mind-set within the IT department and a change in the perception of IT resources more widely in the business. This challenge is one that is already seeing some people question the relevance of the CIO as legacy and culture threaten to keep them mired in a world where technology is a reason not to do things, rather than an enabler of possibilities. I don’t believe this will be the case – but for CIOs and IT teams to move beyond this, as I’ve said before, IT needs to find a way to work in partnership with the business to deliver against a new category of need. The need for agility and flexibility in a web-scale world; the need for resilience and trust in a regulated environment; the need for performance in a context of rich applications; and the need for efficiency in a competitive market where every drop of margin counts.

Whilst there are five pressing areas of change that need to be addressed in IT, the fundamental potential for technology in every aspect of a business’ operations puts the department in a stronger position than ever before to demonstrate its strategic value. Smart investment in each of these areas will deliver tangible competitive advantage for organisations and enable the IT department to take a more central role in the business.

Change or face irrelevance – the choice is as stark as that.